Sunday, 30 October 2011

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HP says it will keep personal computer unit

(AP) ? Hewlett-Packard Co. has decided against spinning off or selling its PC division ? a plan first brought to light in August by the technology conglomerate's now former CEO.

HP said Thursday that it reached its decision after evaluating the impact to the company of jettisoning the business unit, which is the world's biggest manufacturer of desktop and notebook computers for consumers and businesses.

The unit supplies a third of HP's revenue, and PCs are an area where the company is a market leader. But it is HP's least profitable division, and its disposal was meant to be part of former CEO Leo Apotheker's plan to transform the Silicon Valley stalwart into a twin of East Coast rival IBM Corp.: a company focused on businesses, rather than both businesses and consumers.

In an interview, HP's new CEO Meg Whitman said the company determined that, given the lost revenue and cost, removing business "makes no sense."

"I have a lot of confidence we've made the right decision and now we're going to go back to work and go execute," she said.

Deciding what to do with the unit has been one of the biggest challenges for Whitman, a former head of online marketplace operator eBay Inc. who joined Palo Alto-based HP in September after Apotheker was fired.

In August, Apotheker said the PC business would go up for sale in a badly blundered announcement that hastened his demise. At that time, HP also said it would exit the tablet computer and smartphone business and buy business software maker Autonomy Corp. for about $10 billion.

Carving out the PC business would have been a tricky kind of surgery, given its enormity. Steve Diamond, an associate professor at Santa Clara University School of Law, told The Associated Press last month that "tearing apart a business unit of that size is like taking out organs."

"It's very painful. It's like dividing Siamese twins. It's very, very difficult to do and you don't know how it's going to come out," he said.

HP appears to have reached a similar conclusion.

The company said that its evaluation of the business unit revealed a deep integration across key operations, such as its supply chain and procurement. Ultimately, the review found that the cost of recreating these operations in a single company outweighed any benefits of separating the PC unit.

Some analysts cheered HP's decision as the right move, adding they were happy that Whitman made the announcement so rapidly. She had previously said the company would make a determination about the business by the end of the year.

"The fact that Meg pushed this decision very quickly is absolutely cleaning up the mistakes of the past," said Gartner analyst Mark Fabbi.

Whitman said she wanted to reach a decision on the business as fast as possible because it had "created a lot of uncertainty in the marketplace."

Forrester Research analyst Frank Gillett said HP never should have considered removing its PC unit, and the move to keep it seems like the right decision given market conditions.

"Hopefully it's the beginning of showing they've got the process and people in place to work these things through," he said. "But it is puzzling that it was hard for them to figure out."

Gillett said he thinks HP may now be able to thin out its PC family ? similar to what Steve Jobs did at Apple in order to resuscitate the company in the '90s ? and focus on just a few devices with attractive features.

"It's something they have the potential to do that few others do," Gillett said.

Analysts said they don't see any long-term consequences for HP now that it has made its decision. But there's still a big question mark: How will HP compete in the rapidly growing mobile device market?

As part of its PC business spinoff announcement, HP also said it would stop making tablet computers and smartphones by October ? effectively killing flailing smartphone pioneer Palm Inc., which HP bought in 2010 for $1.8 billion.

With Palm, HP got the intuitive WebOS software, which ran on several smartphones. In July, HP released a tablet called the TouchPad that also ran WebOS. But the devices never caught on with consumers, many of whom were more enticed by Apple Inc.'s iPhone and iPad and smartphones running Google Inc.'s Android software. HP still hasn't said what, precisely, it plans to do with WebOS.

Todd Bradley, the head of HP's PC unit, said it's "fair to say Apple got a great jump-start in the tablet space" and now HP is trying to figure out its own best approach. Right now, HP is focused on building a tablet that uses Microsoft Corp.'s upcoming Windows 8 software, he said.

He added that consumers shouldn't be keeping an eye out for a TouchPad 2, but that the company will "clearly look at what's the right path forward for WebOS."

HP shares rose 14 cents to $27.23 in after-hours trading. In regular trading on Thursday, the stock added $1.34, or 5.2 percent, to close at $27.09.

Associated Press


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Saturday, 29 October 2011

PFT: Publicist denies T.O. attempted suicide

Chicago Bears v Tampa Bay BuccaneersGetty Images

We?re checking in with teams as they hit their bye week. ?Or at least we are trying to.

Next up: The Chicago Bears.

Familiar position

Lovie Smith told everyone to calm down after the team?s loss to the Lions on Monday Night Football in Week 5. ?He pointed out that if the team could beat the Vikings and Bucs, they would be 4-3 just like last year at the bye.

Give Smith credit: That?s exactly what happened. ?After a?tumultuous?training camp and start to the season, the Bears are in decent enough shape.

The Bears season has a different feel to it after two strong efforts. They completely destroyed Minnesota, and controlled the action against the Bucs in London.

The Bears have proven capable of beating mediocre competition. They can?t beat the best NFC teams: The Packers, Saints, and Lions all have wins over Chicago.

Forte leads the way

Adrian Peterson is the best running back in the NFL. ?Matt Forte may be the most important to his team. ?Forte leads all players by a wide margin in yards from scrimmage with 1,091. ?He is just off Chris Johnson?s all time yards from scrimmage record pace.

It?s hard to overstate how good Forte is as a receiver. He has a shot to be the first running back since Marshall Faulk to put up over 1,000 rushing yards and 1,000 receiving yards in the same season. It?s no coincidence Mike Martz was involved in both seasons.

Improving passing game

Jay Cutler may have enjoyed the best two game stretch of his Bears career in the loss to the Lions and the win over the Vikings. He is looking more comfortable. His pass protection has improved from absymal to simply lame.

The offense still has to be more consistent after some early ugly outings, but it?s headed in the right direction. It?s 12th in scoring despite the 21 sacks Cutler has taken. The team has a +4 turover margin.

Safety dance

Chris Harris started the season at strong safety; he was released Thursday. Brandon Meriweather was signed for $3.25 million and now sits on the bench. The team is going young with Major Wright and Chris Conte at the position. ?This is a shaky secondary overall.

Average defense

Lovie Smith teams are supposed to be built on defense. At this stage, the Bears have been ordinary stopping opponents. Lance Briggs and Brian Urlacher are still playing at a high level, but they don?t get a lot of help. The defensive line has been decent. Julius Peppers has played at less than 100%.

Chicago?s only chance to make a postseason push is for the defense to improve dramatically.

Angling for a wild card

The Bears are three games back in the NFC North, so their only hope for a playoff spot is a wild card. They are in decent shape with wins over NFC contenders like Atlanta and Tampa Bay.

The next two weeks after the bye are huge. ?The Bears travel to Philadelphia before hosting Detroit. Sweeping those two games would put Chicago in terrific position before an oddly timed four-game tour through the AFC West.

After seven weeks, the Bears are in the mix. Their recent play indicates we?ll probably be talking about Bears tiebreakers come late December.


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It's Official: Fungus Causes Bat-Killing White-Nose Syndrome

News | More Science

Experimental infections prove that Geomyces destructans is responsible for white-nose syndrome

little-brown-batLITTLE BROWN BAT: A fungus is responsible for the white-nose syndrome that has killed more than 1 million bats of various species, particularly the little brown bat pictured here. Image: ? Alan Hicks

Supplemental Material

  • MP3 file Audio Bat Die-Offs Affect Human Health and Economics

A fungus known as Geomyces destructans is indeed responsible for the dusting of white across bat noses and wings that has wiped out entire populations of the flying mammals, new research shows. By purposefully infecting healthy bats with the fungus?and confirming that seemingly healthy "control" bats from the same population did not get sick from a prior but hidden fungal infection?microbiologist David Blehert of the U.S. Geological Survey and his colleagues showed in a paper published online October 26 in Nature that G. destructans is in fact responsible for the disease known as white-nose syndrome (WNS), which has devastated bat populations across the northeastern U.S., killing an estimated one million of the animals. (Scientific American is part of Nature Publishing Group.)

"It is specifically during hibernation that bats are infected with this fungus," Blehert notes. "The greatest damage it does to bats is to wing membranes."

Such membranes, in addition to enabling flight, help control physiological functions such as water retention and blood flow, and even "release CO2 when the respiratory rate is just a couple of breaths per minute," Blehert says. At the same time, it is not clear why a skin infection with G. destructans would prove directly lethal to the animals?the bats in this controlled experiment had not died from the disease by the time the experiment ended after 102 days. Nor had the fungus invaded the bats' vital organs, the researchers found.

In addition, it appears that G. destructans has been a part of the European cave-scape for some time and it has been isolated from cave walls there as well as from bats roosting in those caves. Thus far, however, the fungus has not proved lethal for those species. "It could be that European bats have evolved over a longer period of time and are immune or have a different way of coping with the fungus during hibernation," says mycologist Vishnu Chaturvedi of the New York State Department of Health, who is also studying the fungus and disease, which he calls geomycosis, but was not involved in this study. "Or the fungus in the U.S. has subtle variations that we have not even started looking at."

The core problem seems to be that G. destructans is depleting the fat layers?and thus the body mass?of very small North American bat species, such as the little brown bats used in this experiment. Blehert speculates that the lack of mass mortality in Europe may derive from the fact that European bat species are generally larger in size or the fact that they tend to hibernate in much smaller groups. "In the northeastern U.S. there are many very large hibernaculums, with upwards of 1,000 bats," Blehert notes. "The bat is providing food for the fungus and serving as an amplification host."

In fact, Blehert's experiments show that bats are quite effective at spreading the destructive fungal disease to their neighbors. "Bats are very good agents of transmission of the disease," Chaturvedi says. And that?plus the European analysis?may suggest that G. destructans is an invasive species, according to Blehert, which possibly traveled to the U.S. on a European who visited a public cavern in New York State. WNS was first observed in a wild cave connected to that commercial cave complex near Albany, N.Y. Chaturvedi's work has shown that G. destructans in North America is genetically similar wherever it is found.

There is hope for the bats. Another experiment by Blehert and his colleagues showed that bats artificially removed from hibernation, put in a warm environment, and provided with food and water could recover from WNS. "Bats can rapidly clear the infection in just a matter of weeks," Blehert says. It may be that G. destructans relies on the turning down or shutting off of the bat's immune system during hibernation?as is common to most hibernating mammals?to wreak havoc. The fungus seems to grow best at cold temperatures between 4 and 15 degrees Celsius. "It could be that hibernation is the Achilles' heel that is predisposing bats to G. destructans infection," Blehert adds.

But keeping hundreds of thousands of bats from hibernating is hardly plausible. "You can't just wake them up and shoo them out," Blehert notes, nor is it possible to feed them in mass quantities to restore fat levels. Restricting human access to caves where susceptible bats hibernate?as has been done by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service?and following decontamination protocols when such access is necessary will at least reduce the risk of humans further spreading the disease, which has now spread to infect bats in 11 states and Canada. "Segregating healthy animals from diseased ones to the extent possible does seem to be able to control this infection," Chaturvedi adds.

Regardless, the G. destructans epidemic is just another example of fungal disease on the march: Chytridiomycosis is wiping out amphibians worldwide and fungi may be playing a role in the colony-collapse disorder plaguing honeybees. One effort to protect frogs from this fungal plague are so-called amphibian arks, where small populations are taken into captivity to ensure their survival. That approach may become necessary for certain endangered bat species as well to protect them from the white-nose syndrome caused by G. destructans. As Blehert and his colleagues wrote: "Fungal pathogens have the unique capacity to drive host populations to extinction because of their ability to survive in host-free environments."


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Friday, 28 October 2011

Police Busted for Alleged Gun Smuggling

Eight NYPD officers and one New Jersey corrections officer have been arrested on charges that they were running a gun-smuggling ring that trafficked more than $1 million in illegal weapons and stolen goods.

The officers arrested include five active-duty officers assigned to Brooklyn and three retired NYPD officers, although two of the retired officers were active when committing the alleged crimes, prosecutors said. All those arrested were picked up by FBI agents and NYPD Internal Affairs investigators early Tuesday.

According to the criminal complaint, some of those arrested smuggled 20 firearms as recently as Sept. 22. The cache included three M-16 rifles, one shotgun and 16 handguns, most of which had their serial numbers removed.

One officer bragged to an informant in July, as an associate displayed a shotgun for sale, that it was a "sample" and that they could get anything "from A to Z."

The allegations are no doubt troubling for the NYPD, whose commissioner, Ray Kelly, has joined with Mayor Bloomberg in speaking out on illegal guns as a nationwide scourge that threatens public safety, particularly that of police officers.

Several of those arrested are also accused of illegally transporting other stolen goods. The group is accused of transporting stolen slot machines from Atlantic City, N.J., to Port Chester, N.Y., in March. Two months later, they allegedly stole more than 200 cases of cigarettes from trucks in Virginia and hauled them to New York.

A common tactic, prosecutors said, included breaking into tractor-trailers that were hauling cigarettes.

At one point while transporting stolen slot machines, one of the officers said to an informant, "Listen, when you're doing stuff like this you gotta be intelligent ... you gotta set it up where if I'm a cop on the side of the road, am I gonna stop that Ryder truck there?"

The same officer later said all the policemen participating in the slot machine scheme were "risking a lot for a little," the complaint said.

"They know what's going, and how much trouble they could get in, and what they're risking," he said. "They're risking a lot."

The investigation involved interviews with the informant, undercover work, surveillance, and intercepted phone conversations.

Janice K. Fedarcyk, assistant director in charge of the FBI in New York, said the crimes were "reprehensible."

'The public trusts the police not only to enforce the law, but to obey it," she said. "These crimes, as alleged in the complaint, do nothing but undermine public trust and confidence in law enforcement."

Most of the officers worked out of the 68th Precinct, which serves the Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights and Fort Hamilton neighborhoods.

One officer who allegedly participated in cigarette smuggling expressed concern about trafficking weapons, saying at one point he was fine "as long as there's no drugs and guns involved."

Before the details were unsealed, a PBA spokesman declined comment, saying he was unaware of the specific charges as well as which officers were being charged.

In all, 12 people are charged with multiple federal conspiracy counts expected to be announced later Tuesday by U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly and FBI officials.

The alleged NYPD corruption arrests come as other officers could also be charged this week in a separate ticket-fixing investigation headed by the Bronx District Attorney's office.

Interestingly, the criminal complaint in the gun-smuggling case indicates that the investigation began in late 2009, when the informant was introduced to one of the officers as a person who could "fix" his traffic tickets. The informant then developed a relationship with that officer.

Officials have said more than a dozen NYPD officers could face charges in the ticket-fixing case, including some police union delegates.

In the gun-smuggling case, the suspects are expected to appear in federal court in Manhattan on the charges.


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Thursday, 27 October 2011

First Solar CEO to step down, shares plummet

(AP) ? The CEO of the nation's largest solar company is out, First Solar announced Tuesday, sending its shares tumbling more than 24 percent.

Rob Gillette, who took over at the company less than three years ago, becomes the latest in a series of high-level departures at First Solar, based in Tempe, Ariz.

First Solar would only say that Gillette was "no longer serving as chief executive officer."

The timing of the exit, however, comes as some of the most high-profile companies in the sector fall under a congressional microscope.

GOP critics have sought to halt solar loan guarantees since a one-time industry favorite, Solyndra LLC, sought bankruptcy protection after receiving a half-billion loan guarantee.

And on Sept. 30, First Solar was the recipient of two loan guarantees from the same program just before it was set to expire.

First Solar didn't return calls seeking comment.

Board Chairman and company founder Mike Ahearn will take over as CEO on an interim basis, overseeing an executive team that has seen plenty of change recently.

Bruce Sohn resigned as president of operations in April and utility systems chief Jens Meyerhoff announced that he was leaving in August.

Gillette, a former chief executive at Honeywell Aerospace, was hired to steer the company as the entire industry headed into a tough period. Rising competition from Chinese manufacturers and a drop in panel prices slashed profits throughout the industry and some say that is what led to Solyndra's downfall.

It was one of three manufacturers to file for bankruptcy in the last two months.

In its latest financial report, First Solar said it sold more panels than the same period last year, but weak pricing cut profits by 62 percent.

Gillette remained outwardly positive, telling investors that better times were ahead for the solar industry. Germany, Italy, and other European countries that make up the biggest market for solar panels appeared to be "bouncing back" from the continent's financial crisis, he said.

"I think we will see some stability in the markets," Gillette said in August. "I think in Europe we are still kind of all bouncing back."

First Solar is expected to release its third-quarter results in the next few weeks.

Shares of First Solar Inc. fell $14.18 to $43.77 in afternoon trading.

Associated Press


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Oakland police action unnerves some protesters

An exchange of opinions between a supporter of the Occupy Wall Street protests, right, and passersby attracts attention at Zuccotti Park in New York on Tuesday, Oct. 25, 2011. Some businesses and residents are losing patience with the protesters in the park, the unofficial headquarters of the movement that began in mid-September. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)

An exchange of opinions between a supporter of the Occupy Wall Street protests, right, and passersby attracts attention at Zuccotti Park in New York on Tuesday, Oct. 25, 2011. Some businesses and residents are losing patience with the protesters in the park, the unofficial headquarters of the movement that began in mid-September. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)

A protester post a sign about the cost of war, reflecting the range of issues found among participants of the Occupy Wall Street protest at Zuccotti Park, Tuesday, Oct. 25, 2011 in New York. Some businesses and residents are losing patience with the protesters in Zuccotti Park, the unofficial headquarters of the movement that began in mid-September. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)

A protester holds a sign asking for donations for pets at the Occupy Wall Street protest at Zuccotti Park, Tuesday, Oct. 25, 2011 in New York. Some businesses and residents are losing patience with the protesters in Zuccotti Park, the unofficial headquarters of the movement that began in mid-September. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)

Supporters and visitors line up to receive free meals at the Occupy Wall Street protest in Zuccotti Park, Tuesday, Oct. 25, 2011 in New York. Some businesses and residents are losing patience with the protesters in Zuccotti Park, the unofficial headquarters of the movement that began in mid-September. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)

Occupy Wall Street protesters continue to increase their makeshift shelter at Zuccotti Park, Tuesday, Oct. 25, 2011 in New York. While some businesses and residents are losing patience with the protesters in Zuccotti Park, organizers say they are receiving and storing heavy duty winter supplies to protest throughout the winter. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)

(AP) ? The display of police force in Oakland, Calif., and Atlanta has unnerved some anti-Wall Street protesters.

While demonstrators in other cities have built a working relationship with police and city leaders, they wondered on Wednesday how long the good spirit would last and whether they could be next.

Will they have to face riot gear-clad officers and tear gas that their counterparts in Oakland, Calif., faced Tuesday? Or will they be handcuffed and hauled away in the middle of the night like protesters in Atlanta?

"Yes, we're afraid. Is this the night they're going to sneak in?" said activist William Buster of Occupy Wall Street, where the movement began last month to protest what they see as corporate greed.

"Is this the night they might use unreasonable force?" he asked.

An Iraq War veteran marching with demonstrators suffered a cracked skull in the chaos between officers and protesters in Oakland, further raising concern among some in the movement. Scott Olsen, a 24-year-old Marine veteran, was in critical condition Wednesday after he had been struck, said a spokesman for Highland Hospital in Oakland.

It was not clear exactly what type of object hit the veteran or who might have thrown it, though the group Iraq Veterans Against the War said it was lodged by officers. Police Chief Howard Jordan said at a news conference that the events leading up to Olsen's injury would be investigated as vigorously as a fatal police shooting.

The message, meanwhile, from officials in cities where other encampments have sprung up was simple: We'll keep working with you. Just respect your neighbors and keep the camps clean and safe.

Business owners and residents have complained in recent weeks about assaults, drunken fights and sanitation problems. Officials are trying to balance their rights and uphold the law while honoring protesters' free speech rights.

"I understand the frustration the protesters feel ... about inequity in our country as well as Wall Street greed," Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said. "I support their right to free speech but we also have rules and laws."

Some cities, such as Providence, R.I., are moving ahead with plans to evict activists. But from Tampa, Fla., to Boston, police and city leaders say they will continue to try to work with protesters to address problems in the camps.

In Oakland, officials initially supported the protests, with Mayor Jean Quan saying that sometimes "democracy is messy."

But tensions reached a boiling point after a sexual assault, a severe beating and a fire were reported and paramedics were denied access to the camp, according to city officials. They also cited concerns about rats, fire hazards and public urination.

Demonstrators disputed the city's claims, saying that volunteers collect garbage and recycling every six hours, that water is boiled before being used to wash dishes and that rats have long infested the park.

When riot gear-clad police moved in early Tuesday, they were pelted with rocks, bottles and utensils from people in the camp's kitchen area. They emptied the camp near city hall of people, and barricaded the plaza.

Protesters were taken away in plastic handcuffs, most of them arrested on suspicion of illegal lodging.

Demonstrators returned later in the day to march and retake the plaza. They were met by police officers in riot gear. Several small skirmishes broke out and officers cleared the area by firing tear gas.

The scene repeated itself several times just a few blocks away in front of the plaza.

Tensions would build as protesters edged ever closer to the police line and reach a breaking point with a demonstrator hurling a bottle or rock, prompting police to respond with another round of gas.

The chemical haze hung in the air for hours, new blasts clouding the air before the previous fog could dissipate.

The number of protesters diminished with each round of tear gas. Police estimated that there were roughly 1,000 demonstrators at the first clash following the march. About 100 were arrested.

On Wednesday, Oakland officials allowed protesters back into the plaza where their 15-day-old encampment had been raided but said people would be prohibiting from spending the night, potentially bringing another clash with police.

About 1,000 people quickly filled the plaza, but late at night, many of them filed out and began marching down nearby streets.

A reporter at the scene says police erected wooden barricades to block the march, but the protesters veered off as a group and continued down another street.

There were no signs of clashes between the two sides.

It wasn't immediately clear how many people were left in the plaza, where some had vowed to spend the night.

In Atlanta, police in riot gear and SWAT teams arrested 53 people in Woodruff Park, many of whom had camped out there for weeks as part of a widespread movement that is protesting the wealth disparity between the rich and everyone else.

Mayor Kasim Reed had been supportive of the protests, twice issuing an executive order allowing them to remain.

Reed said on Wednesday that he had no choice to arrest them because he believed things were headed in a direction that was no longer peaceful. He cited a man seen walking the park with an AK-47 assault rifle.

"There were some who wanted to continue along the peaceful lines, and some who thought that their path should be more radical," Reed said. "As mayor, I couldn't wait for them to finish that debate."

Reed said authorities could not determine whether the rifle was loaded, and were unable to get additional information.

An Associated Press reporter talked to the man with the gun earlier Tuesday.

He wouldn't give his name ? identifying himself only as "Porch," an out-of-work accountant who doesn't agree with the protesters' views ? but said that he was there, armed, because he wanted to protect the rights of people to protest.

People who were arrested trickled out of jail as a crowd of several dozen supporters chanted "freedom" as they left.

"I think Mayor Reed would do well to learn quickly that you cannot intimidate, you cannot threaten, you cannot jail something whose time has come," activist Derrick Boazman said. "The fact of the matter is this movement's time has come."

In Portland, Ore., the protest seems to be at a crossroads. Organizers have been dealing with public drunkenness, fighting and drug abuse for weeks, especially among the homeless who are also in the camp.

Some are floating the idea of relocating it, possibly indoors. Others see that as capitulation.

"I don't know if it would be a good idea. Part of the effectiveness of what's going on here is visibility," protester Justin Neff said. "Though I'd do it if there's a possibility that we'd get seen and noticed. I don't know how that would work indoors."

City officials haven't said what would cause them to forcibly evict the protesters. They said they evaluate the camp daily.

In Baltimore, protesters like Casey McKeel, a member of Occupy Baltimore's legal committee, said he wasn't sure aren't sure what to expect from city officials, noting that some cities have arrested protesters in recent weeks.

"Across the country we're seeing a wide range of reactions," he said. "For now we're hoping the city will work with us."

The mayor, Rawlings-Blake, said she is willing to work with them, but they should realize that they are camping out in a city park and that was not its intended use. She said their free-speech rights don't trump the public's right to enjoy the space.

"I have absolutely no interest in a violent exchange," she said. "We want to work with the protesters, but the point is to talk about inequity and talk about how we can work together to have a more just society or more equitable Baltimore.

"It's not about pitching a tent. It's about getting the work done," she said.


Contributing to this report were Associated Press writers Marcus Wohlsen in Oakland; Nigel Duara in Portland, Ore.; Sarah Brumfield in Baltimore, Md.; Verena Dobnik and Samantha Gross in New York; Harry R. Weber, Errin Haines and Jeff Martin in Atlanta; Erica Niedowski in Providence, R.I.; Michael J. Crumb in Des Moines, Iowa; Ben Nuckols in Washington; and Jay Lindsay in Boston.

Associated Press


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Wednesday, 26 October 2011

'Dark Knight Rises' Prologue To Play Before IMAX 'Mission: Impossible'

Six-minute-long prologue footage will reportedly only be shown at theaters with high-resolution 70mm IMAX screens.
By Kevin P. Sullivan

Christian Bale and Tom Hardy film "The Dark Knight Rises"
Photo: Jared Wickerham/ Getty Images

It is almost certain now that the Dark Knight will be rising sooner than expected. As MTV News reported last week, there was a rumor circulating that a six-minute prologue to the upcoming Christopher Nolan Batman film, "The Dark Knight Rises," would play before IMAX showings of "Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol." The presentation was, in theory, supposed to be similar to the Joker's reveal that played before IMAX screenings of "I Am Legend" in 2008.

The rumor remained just that until theater chain AMC released a statement on their blog that reads: "The six-minute Dark Knight Rises prologue footage will only be shown on the higher resolution 70mm IMAX screens. Not the digital IMAX screens. Locations haven't been confirmed yet, so stay tuned for an update on AMC Theatre locations that will be showing the prologue Dark Knight Rises footage at a 70mm IMAX screen nearest you."

AMC's statement aligned with the original rumor that had been posted on /Film, but news of the clip only showing on the "higher resolution 70mm IMAX screens" was an unexpected bit of information, though not entirely surprising. Nolan is known for his meticulous control over his films, so insisting on the higher res for the preview makes sense.

This detail from the AMC post may spell trouble for some fans. If the report is accurate, the prologue will play on far fewer screens than initially expected. The digital IMAX screens tend to be more common than the 70mm format ones, so some fans may have to travel further than expected for their first glimpse at "The Dark Knight Rises."

The post was the most solid confirmation yet about the footage, but it was soon removed. A new statement was issued by AMC, stating, "The information in this post has been retracted until further notice. Please refer to Warner Bros. for any information about The Dark Knight Rises."

If AMC was confident enough to confirm the rumors, the prologue seems like more or less a certainty. The redaction by Warner Bros. could have to do with how they typically release Batman info. With "The Dark Knight," the "Why So Serious" marketing campaign involved highly complicated tasks that rewarded fans with content, like the Joker prologue. A straight news release for the "Dark Knight Rises" prologue would go against precedent.

What do you want to see in the prologue for "The Dark Knight Rises"? Let us know in the comments below and on Twitter!

Check out everything we've got on "The Dark Knight Rises."

For breaking news and previews of the latest comic book movies — updated around the clock — visit

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Tuesday, 25 October 2011

World Series Game 4: Derek Holland Pitches Rangers Past Cardinals And Mike Napoli Homers

By Ben Walker, Associated Press

ARLINGTON, Texas ? Derek Holland kept Albert Pujols in the ballpark and the Texas Rangers in this World Series.

In a title matchup that's getting more interesting with every game, Holland put the emphasis back on pitching. Given a pep talk by manager Ron Washington minutes before the game, Holland allowed two hits over 8 1-3 innings to beat the St. Louis Cardinals 4-0 on Sunday night and even things at 2-all.

Holland struck out seven, walked two and never was in trouble against a team that erupted for 16 runs the previous night. He came within two outs of pitching the first complete-game shutout in the World Series since Josh Beckett's gem for Florida to clinch the 2003 title at Yankee Stadium.

"I was very focused. I knew this was a big game for us," Holland said. "I had to step up and make sure I was prepared."

Hobbled Josh Hamilton put Texas ahead with an RBI double in the first inning. Then Mike Napoli broke it open with a three-run homer in the sixth that set off a hearty high-five in the front row between team president Nolan Ryan and former President George W. Bush.

And just like that, for the first time since 2003, the World Series stood at two games apiece. Now the whole season is down to a best of three, with the outcome to be decided back at Busch Stadium.

Game 5 is Monday night at Rangers Ballpark. It's a rematch of the opener, when Cardinals ace Chris Carpenter topped C.J. Wilson.

A day after Pujols produced arguably the greatest hitting show in postseason history, tying Series records with three home runs, six RBIs and five hits during the Cardinals' romp, Holland emerged as the unlikely star.

Holland got a big cheer when he took the mound in the ninth and was still throwing 96 mph. With the crowd chanting his name, he walked Rafael Furcal and left after 8 1-3 innings. He tipped his cap and waved to the fans as he walked off.

"I was begging to stay out there," he said. "I said, 'I'll give it everything I've got. I can get the double play.'

"When I came off the field my arm hair was sticking up ? not like I have much."

Holland's outing was the longest scoreless appearance by an AL starter in the Series since Andy Pettitte also went 8 1-3 at Atlanta in 1996.

Neftali Feliz took over and closed. He walked Allen Craig, then retired Pujols on a fly ball and struck out Matt Holliday to end it.

Pujols finished 0 for 4 and hit the ball out of the infield only once.

The bounce-back Rangers managed to avoid consecutive losses for the first time since Aug. 23-25, a streak that's kept them out of trouble in the postseason.

The Rangers also completed a Sunday sweep in the matchup of teams from St. Louis and the Dallas area. Earlier in the afternoon, the Cowboys beat the Rams 34-7 right across the parking lots. Hamilton and Lance Berkman served as honorary captains for the pregame coin toss, wearing their baseball uniforms.

Many fans might remember Holland from last year's World Series. He's the reliever who came in against San Francisco, walked his first three batters and promptly got pulled.

Maybe that guy was an impostor. Because this 25-year-old lefty with the sorry little mustache was completely poised, with pinpoint control. Perhaps it was the talk he got from Washington near the dugout shortly before taking the mound.

Washington put both hands on Holland's shoulder and talked to him tenderly, like a dad about to send his teenage son off to college. Holland kept nodding, and Washington finished up with a playful pat to Holland's cheek.

After that, Holland was in total command in his first Series start, and improved to 3-0 lifetime in the postseason. The only hits he allowed were by Berkman: a double in the second and a single in the fifth. Holland got even later, getting Berkman to look at a strike three that left the St. Louis star discussing the call with plate umpire Ron Kulpa.

Cardinals starter Edwin Jackson kept his team close despite a wild night. He walked seven, and eventually they caught up with him. It was 1-0 when manager Tony La Russa pulled Jackson after two one-out walks in the sixth and signaled for reliever Mitchell Boggs. Napoli was up, and the sellout crowd chanted his name as he stepped into the batter's box.

Boggs stayed in the stretch for an extra beat while Furcal ducked behind Nelson Cruz from shortstop. When Boggs finally threw his 95 mph fastball, Napoli whacked it.

Napoli stood at the plate for a moment as the ball sailed deep, just inside the left field line. Boggs could only contort his body, seeing the game get out of hand.

Hamilton forced the Cardinals to play catch-up for the first time in a while. St. Louis had scored first in 10 straight postseason games, one shy of the record set by Detroit during a span from 1972-84.

Elvis Andrus singled with one out in the Texas first and sped home when Hamilton doubled into the right field corner. The reigning AL MVP has been slowed by a strained groin, part of the reason he hasn't homered in 57 at-bats this postseason.

NOTES: Napoli became the first catcher to hit two homers in a Series since Mike Piazza of the Mets in 2000. ... Texas 2B Ian Kinsler and St. Louis C Yadier Molina played a little game of back-and-forth in the second. Kinsler robbed Molina of an RBI single with a nice stop up the middle to end the top half. In the bottom half, Molina made a snap throw that trapped Kinsler off first base for the last out. ... Mitch Moreland batted last for Texas. It's the sixth time a starting first baseman in the World Series had hit ninth in order, four by Moreland.

2011 World Series Game 4


A fan raises a flag during Game Four of the MLB World Series between the St. Louis Cardinals and the Texas Rangers at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington on October 23, 2011 in Arlington, Texas.


2011 World Series Game 4

A fan raises a flag during Game Four of the MLB World Series between the St. Louis Cardinals and the Texas Rangers at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington on October 23, 2011 in Arlington, Texas.

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Winfrey to interview Ralph Lauren live in NYC (AP)

NEW YORK ? When Ralph Lauren sits down for a little chat Monday night with Oprah Winfrey, they'll pick up a discussion they started on TV back in the spring, when the fashion designer helped close out Winfrey's long-running talk show with an exclusive peek inside his Colorado estate.

But this time, their talk about Lauren's life, career and commitment to cancer causes will be done in front of a sold-out crowd of arts patrons at Lincoln Center and a celebrity guest list expected to include Jerry Seinfeld, Martha Stewart, Tom Brokaw, Naomi Watts and Anna Wintour.

Proceeds from the event will benefit Lauren's cancer care center in East Harlem, along with Lincoln Center itself.

Produced by Tony Award winner Darren Bagert, the multimedia presentation reinforces the Upper West Side venue as a fashion-industry destination. It's where most of the city's designers ? although not Lauren ? present their seasonal collections at New York Fashion Week.

Meanwhile, Mayor Michael Bloomberg declared Monday as The Ralph Lauren Center for Cancer Care and Prevention Day.

Winfrey was expected to wear a custom-made gown by Lauren.

Back in May, Lauren told Winfrey during their televised interview that he considered becoming a baseball player, a basketball player, a cowboy, a dancer ? even Batman ? before settling on fashion as his livelihood. He said he was drawn to Batman because of "the ability to stay young, the ability to enjoy what you enjoyed when you were a kid, not to give up the hope and excitement."


Samantha Critchell tweets fashion at


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Monday, 24 October 2011

Where are Moammar Gadhafi's billions? (The Week)

New York ? Everybody knows Gadhafi siphoned off much of Libya's oil wealth. But many don't realize just how massive his fortune really was

The hunt for Moammar Gadhafi may be over, but the hunt for his hidden riches is still underway. During Gadhafi's 42 years in power, the late Libyan leader diverted a "staggering" fortune from the oil-rich country's wealth to his personal accounts, along with those of his family and members of his tribe. Where did all the money go? Here, a brief guide:

How much money did Gadhafi have?
A startling amount. While Gadhafi was still clinging to power, he and his family were believed to have stashed between $33 billion and $60 billion around the world. But now that the trails of his assets ? everything from sprawling estates in New Jersey, London, and Spain, to a 2 percent stake in Fiat and piles of gold bullion in Libya ? are really being scrutinized, the estimates have ballooned to more than $200 billion. That would have made Gadhafi the richest man in the world, by far, with as much wealth as Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, and Carlos Slim combined. "No one truly appreciated the scope of it," said one person who has examined documents involved in the asset search, as quoted in the Los Angeles Times.

Where did he get all that money?
Oil, for starters. For four decades, Gadhafi enjoyed uncontested control over Libya's oil reserves ? the largest in Africa. Libya is the 12th largest oil exporter in the world. Gadhafi also siphoned off as much as he wanted from whatever the Libyan state collected through foreign investments and aid. Unlike other oil-rich leaders, such as Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah, Gadhafi didn't spend much on schools, hospitals, and other infrastructure. Nor did he use the wealth to develop other industries to diversify Libya's economy. He used some of the money to buy support from other African leaders, and the rest he essentially put into his own pocket.

What did he do with such unfathomable riches?
Personally, not much. Gadhafi lived relatively modestly, and tried to stay close to his nomadic roots by living in tents ? even, when possible, during state visits abroad. Gadhafi's kids, however, were a different story, says Robert Powell of the Economist Intelligence Unit. "His children generally went a little bit off the rails and really enjoyed the high life," says Powell, as quoted by ABC News. Unlike dad, they bought big private yachts, planes, and real estate throughout Europe.

Can Libya's new government get the money back?
Possibly, but it won't be easy. The country's National Transitional Council has to find the hidden riches first. A good chunk of it is?stashed in investments spread out in just about every major country in the world. Unraveling the tangled web of partial ownership and shadowy intermediaries, says former State Department official Jonathan Winer, as quoted at?IBN Live, then deciding what goes to Libya's government and what goes to Gadhafi's victims, will be "an unholy mess to sort out."

Sources: ABC News, Daily Mail, Business Insider,?LA Times, IBN Live

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Sunday, 23 October 2011


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Why Apple Isn?t Going to Release a 7-inch iPad

Fresh rumors are suggesting that Apple could be working on a small form factor tablet to share shelf space with the iPad and iPad 2. Although the release of a small form factor iPad is possible, conventional wisdom strongly suggests that a small form factor iPad is not the "Apple way."


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Saturday, 22 October 2011

Microsoft Talks Portrait Mode For Windows 8

landyMost people right now think of Windows 8 as Microsoft's big tablet effort. But I wonder whether it will ever actually be installed on more tablets than traditional laptops and desktops. After all, it's not just Windows 7 Tablet Edition — it's the next version of Windows, period. But there's an wrinkle on tablet systems that has to be addressed that rarely, if ever, comes up on laptops: orientation. While very few people use their display in portrait mode, it's extremely common to do so on tablets. Many apps and webpages work better when displayed vertically. So far, so normal for a tablet interface, but it must be just a little demoralizing to be working on something that a majority of users will never once encounter. Still, it must be done and they seem to be doing it well.


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Someone Please Just Make This (Update: Oh My Lord, Someone Did Make It)

Screen Shot 2011-10-21 at 11.38.24 AM
"With funding from dozens of news outlets and media companies, the groundbreaking launched this week, providing an online destination where pandering and incendiary content is used to lure moronic Internet commenters away from all other websites."


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Friday, 21 October 2011

How and Where to Watch the World Series Online [Sports]

How and Where to Watch the World Series OnlineThe MLB World Series is kicking off tonight between the Texas Rangers and the St. Louis Cardinals, but with Fox holding down the broadcast rights, it's difficult, but not impossible, to find a means to watch the games without tuning in on your television.

The Official Way

How and Where to Watch the World Series OnlineThe official means to watch the game comes in the form of a $19.99 subscription to MLB.TV's Postseason plan. However?and this is a big catch?the games will not be streamed live in the U.S. The live video stream won't be available until 90 minutes after the game is over. A live audio broadcast of the game from both teams home broadcasts are available in the app, as well as video highlights for great plays as the game happens.

Seems like kind of a bum deal, right? Viewers outside of the U.S. and Canada will not have the same delay of the live broadcast, and according to a representative at, the service detects your IP address at the access point, so you theoretically could run your internet connection through a proxy server that lives outside the U.S. to gain access to the live footage, but proxying video streams across oceans can get choppy, so your mileage may vary.

If you're not worried about the picture, you can also stream the radio broadcasts live from ESPN for free. This might come in handy if the live video streams are having hiccups with audio.

The Unofficial Way

Unofficially, you'll have a few options for streaming content online, although there is no guarantee on the quality of the streams you'll have available.

The first and easiest to use is First Row Sports, a web site which aggregates user-submitted streams and allows anyone to submit their own live stream of the game for fellow fans to enjoy. The quality depends on who is streaming it and from where they're streaming, and the sources are wide ranging, from Justin.TV to straight P2P sites. Alternately, you can try LiveTV, or Wiziwig for similar services, or visit a streaming site like Justin.TV or Ustream directly 30 minutes before the game's start time.

Ways to Enhance the Game

How and Where to Watch the World Series OnlineOnce you get your live stream up and running, you might want to delve a little deeper into the game and if you're a fan of pitch-by-pitch tracking, your best bet is going to be's Gameday. If you prefer to use your phone or tablet as your second screen during the game there is a 99? official app, MLB At Bat, which is available for iOS, Android, WP7, Blackberry and webOS.

For more indepth stats on the web, you can follow the modern stats at FanGraphs or the more traditional statistics from Baseball Reference. FanGraphs also has an iOS app if you don't want to juggle tabs in your browser. If you're the type to crunch numbers during games, both of these will provide in-game stat tracking on a variety of levels, including win-loss projections, pitch tracking, detailed match-ups and more.

If you're more interested in being a part of the game and keeping track of stats yourself, the $10 ESPN iScore Baseball Scorekeeper is a way to keep track of every little thing that happens throughout the game. Title Photo remixed from the originals by: Ken Lund and Christoph Weihs/Shutterstock.


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Thursday, 20 October 2011

Analysis: Yes, parts of the jobs bill will pass (AP)

WASHINGTON ? Congress will almost certainly approve the parts of President Barack Obama's jobs bill that extend the payroll tax cut and long-term unemployment benefits. But his calls for new spending and a surtax on millionaires seem doomed.

It's a legislative reality largely missing in the furious political debate now unfolding along all-or-nothing lines, in which Obama tries to assign Republicans part of the blame for a dismayingly weak economy while the GOP tries to avoid it.

"Last week, all the Republicans in the Senate got together and blocked the jobs bill," the president said this week after his bus rolled, campaign-style, into Millers Creek, N.C. "They refused to even debate it."

He cited a poll that said about 63 percent of Americans "support the ideas in this jobs bill," then he asked, "So why is it that 100 percent of Republicans in the Senate voted against it?" He added, "It doesn't make any sense."

The morning after, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell rebutted.

"He's trying to change the topic," the Kentucky senator said of Obama. "He wants to deflect attention from that 1.5 million job loss" since he took office. "For two years, the president got everything he wanted from the Democrats in Congress," McConnell added.

In the political argument, both sides play loose with the facts.

Despite Obama's rhetoric, it was Senate Democrats who forced a rewrite of the jobs bill last week. And even now, it's unlikely he has enough support within his own party to assure a majority.

And despite McConnell's claim, Obama settled for less than he wanted from Congress in an economic stimulus bill early in 2009, agreeing to a concession in exchange for Republican votes critical to passage.

Political debate aside, significant parts of the legislation seem on track to pass by year's end, when payroll tax cuts enacted a year ago and unemployment benefits are scheduled to expire.

The proposed renewal of the payroll tax cut, at $179 billion over a decade, is the largest single item in the legislation and has drawn no significant opposition from Republicans.

A proposal to give employers a break on payroll taxes, a $69 billion provision, could pass, as well.

An extension of unemployment insurance, likely to pass, carries a price tag of $48.5 billion.

Far less likely to become law, given Republican opposition, are the president's requests for $50 billion over a decade for transportation projects, $35 billion to help the states hire teachers and first responders, $30 billion for school modernization and $15 billion for a neighborhood stabilization fund.

Nor do Republicans show any interest in accepting the millionaires' surtax that would pay the entire cost of the measure.

The parts that draw bipartisan support and the parts that do not all generate significant support in public opinion polls. That explains why Democrats maneuver constantly to force Republicans to vote on them, requiring them to choose between what is politically popular on the one hand, and their aversion to tax increases and higher federal spending on the other.

As an example, 75 percent of the public support the use of federal funds to let states hire teachers and first responders, according to a CNN/ORC survey released Tuesday and cited instantly by Democrats.

Yet there is ample polling that shows the country is suspicious of more spending and larger government. In the survey that Democrats cited, a 59-36 majority said the president's policies are more likely to fail than to succeed.

While the legislative maneuvering grinds on, Obama travels widely, sometimes aboard Air Force One and occasionally along roads that lead to towns rarely visited by presidents.

With the exception of Texas, his itinerary consists of states he won in 2008. In all cases, unemployment is higher than when he took office.

North Carolina, where the president spoke on Monday, had joblessness of 10.4 percent in August, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, up from 9.7 percent in January 2009.

Virginia, where the president had two speeches on Tuesday, had unemployment of 6 percent when Obama took office, 6.3 percent in August.

The other states include Pennsylvania: unemployment at 7 percent in January, 2009 but 8.2 percent now. Ohio: 8.8 percent then, 9.1 percent now. Colorado, 6.6 percent then, 8.5 percent now; Washington, 7.8 percent then, 9.3 percent now; California 10.1 percent then, 12.1 percent now and Florida, 8.6 percent then and 10.7 percent now.

Confronting numbers like that, Obama on Tuesday offered what he called a comparison.

Republicans, he said, "want to gut environmental regulations. They want to roll back Wall Street reform so that we end up with the same financial system we had that got us into this mess in the first place. And they want to repeal health care reform so that 30 million people won't have health insurance.

"That is what they call their `Real American Jobs Act.' It's inspiring stuff," he taunted.

Not at all, of course, which is why McConnell insisted otherwise.

" The president I think has become convinced that the economy is not likely to be much better a year from now. So he has started the campaign 13 months early, and he's trying to convince the American people that it's anybody else's fault but his."


EDITOR'S NOTE ? David Espo covers Congress and politics for The Associated Press.


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Clinton Rules Out Role After 2012 (Taegan Goddard's Political Wire)

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Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Improving training efficiency in horses

ScienceDaily (Oct. 19, 2011) ? People generally exercise to lose fat or build up muscle but it is an unfortunate consequence of hard training that muscle is often lost. To counter this effect, people may elect to take various dietary supplements -- legal or otherwise. But what can legally be done to help train sport horses? Recent work at the University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna has shown that a special mixture of amino acids and proteins is able to prevent muscle breakdown in horses following exercise.

The findings are published in the current issue of the Journal of Animal Physiology and Animal Nutrition.

It is well known that hard training can lead to degradation of muscle protein. A number of nutritional strategies have been developed to counter this but surprisingly there has to date been very little attention paid to the situation in sport horses. Preliminary data showing that nutritional supplements given after exercise may also help prevent muscle breakdown in horses are now provided by Ren? van den Hoven and colleagues in the Institute of Animal Nutrition at the University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna.

The scientists investigated standardbred trotters (horses used in harness racing) before and after intense exercise on a high-speed treadmill. Because protein degradation within cells takes place by a number of different mechanisms, the researchers investigated potential markers for each of the pathways. They also examined whether the activity of the pathways was affected if the animals received an amino acid/protein supplement (developed for human sportsmen and -women) after exercise.

The results showed that one of the classic pathways for protein degradation, the so-called ubiquitination pathway, was dramatically activated four hours after the exercise period, at least as judged by the level of messenger RNA encoding ubiquitin. This indicates strongly that the horses were breaking down protein in their muscles (by the ubiquitination pathway) as a result of heavy exercise. Importantly, the increase could be significantly reduced by the amino acid/protein supplement. Changes to the other pathways studied were comparatively minor and little affected by the food supplement.

Van den Hoven is cautiously excited by the findings. "It will be important to attempt to verify our results on larger sample sizes," he says, "but the initial indications are that the use of a protein/amino acid mixture can decrease protein degradation in trained horses and thus could have an advantageous effect on muscle mass."

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The above story is reprinted from materials provided by Veterin?rmedizinische Universit?t Wien.

Note: ScienceDaily reserves the right to edit materials for content and length. For original reprint permissions, please contact the source cited above.

Journal Reference:

  1. R. van den Hoven, A. Bauer, S. Hackl, M. Zickl, J. Spona, J. Zentek. A preliminary study on the changes in some potential markers of muscle-cell degradation in sub-maximally exercised horses supplemented with a protein and amino acid mixture. Journal of Animal Physiology and Animal Nutrition, 2011; 95 (5): 664 DOI: 10.1111/j.1439-0396.2010.01097.x

Note: If no author is given, the source is cited instead.

Disclaimer: Views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of ScienceDaily or its staff.


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